On a very rainy day we drove from Fukuoka out to Nagasaki. Although we knew the day would be emotional visiting the atomic bomb museum, we knew it was important for us to see the devastation caused by America during WWII.
Nagasaki began in 1571 as a shipping port. In it's 374 history before the bomb was dropped, this town surrounded by mountains on 3 sides, and drew a wealth of knowledge from Western civilization.
Only 3 days after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, on the morning of August 9, 1945, at 11:02 am, a second atomic bomb, the "Fat Man", was dropped during WWII on the city of Nagasaki. Kokura was the primary target, but due to smoke cover over the city, the US dropped the bomb on it's secondary target, Nagasaki. The bomb almost wasn't dropped because there was cloud cover over Nagasaki as well, but the clouds briefly parted and the bomb was deployed from Bockscar (the military plane).
Fat man exploded in the sky 500 meters above the northern part of Nagasaki. The explosion was as powerful as 21,000 tons of TNT and on top of that contained, deadly radiation. If people weren't killed by the blast within 1 km of the explosion, they died due to the intense radiation.
The heat caused by this fireball was estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000 degree Celsius near the hypocenter and even 1,800 degree Celsius a kilometer away. Because the heat was so intense, surfaces exposed directly to heat waves burned and changed color, but the unexposed areas retained their original color creating shadow-like images.
73,884 deaths were caused by the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, and 74,909 injuries.
On top of everything, fires raged through the city after the bombing as well. These lead to an additional 12,900 houses burning to the ground, and 5,509 partially burned while increasing the number of victims from this tragic event.
All in all, the museum is very sad to walk through (as expected), but important. There are many displays of artifacts showing the aftermath of the explosion. On top of that, there are a lot of stories, poems, and facts surrounding the bomb's history and what has been done in the world since to help prevent something like this happening again.
After the museum we went to the Remembrance hall. This is a place for people to silently mourn victims of the atomic bomb. There are glass pillars placed strategically leading to the Registry Shelf. The glass pillars are illuminated by the sky to symbolize calls for peace going out to the skies of the world, and are positioned to form a line leading to the hypocenter. The Registry Shelf has the names of all those that perished in the atomic bomb. When facing the shelf, you face the hypocenter.
After our somber morning, we headed out into the rain to get lunch and explore more of Nagasaki. We were craving some Indian food and found a spot nearby.
After lunch we headed out to explore more of Nagasaki including the hypocenter and Peace Statue.
Our first stop was the actual hypocenter area that the bomb was dropped. An eerie place when you think about the devastation that occurred here.
There is also some remains of the Urakami Cathedral which was only 500 meters from the hypocenter. Before the bomb it was one of the largest Catholic churches in East Asia.
We continued to explore to Memorial Park and came upon the Fountain of Peace. When the bomb exploded, thousands of people suffered terrible burns and died begging for water. This fountain was constructed by donations all over Japan and dedicated as an offering of water to the victims of the atomic bomb and a prayer for the tranquility of their souls. The fountain sends water into the air in the shape of a pair of wings, symbolizing the dove of peace and the crane that Nagasaki had been named after.
Throughout Peace Park there are 15 other monuments that were donated and sent from various countries from around the world. In 1977, the Bells of Nagasaki were also set up and are rung on the anniversary of the bombing every year at 11:02 am.
At the end of Peace Park is Peace Statue created by sculptor Seibo Kitamura. The right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons and the left hand extended symbolizes eternal peace. His legs also symbolize both meditation and the initiative to stand up and rescue the people of the world, with one being folded and one bent about to stand. His face is making a mild expression symbolizing divine grace with his gently closed eyes offering prayer for the victims souls.
Beneath the statue, a black marble vault is installed which contains all the names of the atomic bomb victims and survivors who did in the latter years. There's also a plaque with "Words from the Sculptor"
After experiencing that nightmarish war,
that blood-curdling carnage,
that unendurable horror,
Who could walk away without praying for peace?
This statue was created as a signpost in the
struggle for global harmony.
Standing ten meters tall,
it conveys the profundity of knowledge and
the beauty of health and virility.
The right hand points to the atomic bomb,
the left hand points to peace,
and the face prays deeply for the victims of war.
Transcending the barriers of race
and evoking the qualities of Buddha and God,
it is a symbol of the greatest determination
ever known in the history of Nagasaki
and the highest hope of all mankind.
— Seibo Kitamura (Spring 1995)
Near the statue there's also a hut that contains thousands of colorful paper cranes that have been sent by people from all over the world.
We then started the rainy walk back to the car while taking in more of this beautiful city and it's history.
Once we arrived back in Fukuoka, we were starving. We hopped on the metro and headed out to find some yummy sushi at Sushizanmai. It did not disappoint and was a perfect way to end the day.
Tune in for the next blog where we head up to Takachiho Gorge and catch a baseball game at Kumamoto.
- The Bonds
Follow in our Footsteps:
Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
7-8 Hirano-machi, Nagasaki, 852-8117, Japan
Hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Cost: 200 yen (adult), 100 yen (children)
Japan, 〒852-8117 Nagasaki, Hiranomachi, 12−13 サンシャインモリ 1F
Hours: 11am - 3pm, 5pm - 11pm
Nagasaki Hypocenter Park
5 Matsuyamamachi, Nagasaki, 852-8118, Japan
Open 24 hours
Nagasaki Peace Park
9 Matsuyamamachi, Nagasaki, 852-8118, Japan
Open 24 hours
Japan, 〒810-0001 Fukuoka, Chuo Ward, Tenjin, 2 Chome−3−10 天神パインクレスト1F
Open 24 hours
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!